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Author Topic: What does it take to make you switch to smaller sensor digital camera?  (Read 12112 times)

EinstStein

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On my last trip to UK, I met a professional photographer who has several art galleries world wide to show his 12 feet wide standard format pictures. I estimated his cameras should have no more than 40MP.

I can't image I print that size. I can't even dream of larger than 40"x30", even then 24MP is more than enough. Now a 35mm FF digital camera is 40MP and is even growing to 80MP in Sony's next FF, a 43rd format digital camera can easily offer 24MPs. The dynamic range would match or exceed the best film ever. I wonder why do I or anyone really need bigger format.

Yes, may be the selective focus rendering is still not there yet. Is that all?

Exactly what is missing in the smaller format that can be found in FF, other than more pixels?   
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Rob C

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On my last trip to UK, I met a professional photographer who has several art galleries world wide to show his 12 feet wide standard format pictures. I estimated his cameras should have no more than 40MP.

I can't image I print that size. I can't even dream of larger than 40"x30", even then 24MP is more than enough. Now a 35mm FF digital camera is 40MP and is even growing to 80MP in Sony's next FF, a 43rd format digital camera can easily offer 24MPs. The dynamic range would match or exceed the best film ever. I wonder why do I or anyone really need bigger format.

Yes, may be the selective focus rendering is still not there yet. Is that all?

Exactly what is missing in the smaller format that can be found in FF, other than more pixels?


Do you mean the difference between the FF (as in traditional 24mm x36mm format) and the cropped version of that, the Nikon DX format? Or are you including formats larger than the full 135 format in your question?

Rob C

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Since I first shot with the X-Pro1 I’ve been won over by Fujifilm’s line of lenses and bodies.  I now use an X-T1 and an X100T as well, along with mostly prime lenses (only one zoom).  When choosing a camera, my Canon gear (5D, 5D Mk III, 350D and nine lenses) stay in the closet.  I haven’t yet had the heart to sell the Canon gear but am nearing the decision.

The smaller Fujifilm sensor completely fulfils my needs, printing to A2 size.  The smaller and lighter gear is a delight to use - a great advantage.  I also like the X-T1 dials as well as the aperture ring on most Fujifilm lenses.  There are certain disadvantages but I can cope with them, e.g. battery charge, AF speed, limited flash capabilities, no angle finder.
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Telecaster

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The more I use my GX8 and 12–35/35–100/25mm lenses, the more I consider my Sony system to have been a waste of money. I love the idea of having far more pixel oomph than I can use. But I nearly always grab the Panasonic when I get the urge to click click click. It has enough oomph of its own and for me is just more fun to use.

-Dave-
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EinstStein

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I have a 16MP 43rd and a 18MP FF, I rarely use the 43rd. The main reason is in both the pleasing IQ of the lens and the color fidelity of the sensor. But I think with the current sensor technology, as long as the sensor pixel size is the same and is the same technology, the smaller sensor can offer equal color fidelity as of the larger sensor. The advantage of larger sensor would be only the pixel count.

As of the lens, it may still take time for the new system/format to catch up. After all, there are so many heritage lenses in the FF format. Due to the non-linear scalability, Smaller format should be even easier to achieve the same quality with the matching total pixel account of a frame. -- or, is this true?

The convenience and portability of the smaller format is unbeatable by the larger format. I wonder, if this is really a free lunch. Is there anything in the larger format, except the total pixel count, that is unbeatable by the smaller format?   

 
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Dave Ellis

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Is there anything in the larger format, except the total pixel count, that is unbeatable by the smaller format?   

Well the larger format has a fundamental advantage when it comes to sharpness. The larger the sensor, the less optical reduction there is for a given Field of View. For example, consider shooting a billboard painted with closely spaced alternating black and white lines with a FF sensor and a 1.5x crop sensor and assume you just fill the frame with the billboard in each case, and use the same FF lens in each case. If the lines are spaced at say 50 lppmm on the FF sensor, they will be spaced at 75 lppmm on the crop sensor. The MTF of the lens/camera system will be lower at 75 lppmm than at 50 lppmm, assuming the lens has the same characteristics at the two different focal lengths used and the sensors have the same pixel pitch. Thus there is a fundamental advantage with the FF in terms of sharpness of the captured image and it is for this reason that the quantity lw/ph is used for comaprison purposes, when different sensor sizes are involved. Counteracting that to some extent is the fact that the lens will be less sharp at the edges of the FF sensor than at the edges of the crop sensor.

Dave
« Last Edit: April 06, 2016, 03:04:40 am by Dave Ellis »
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EinstStein

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I think you have a point, and I could elaborate it a little further.

1. The lens resolution can be expressed in ray angle. In the simplest form, it is expressed in

                  wave_length/lens_diameter.

    We can convert it ti lp/mm if we assume the iamge plane is very near the focal plane, if so it will be

                 lens_diameter/(focal_length x wave_length).

     We can furthe convert it to the number of pixel per frame assume each frame is W x L.
     That is the total number of pixel per frame is

                  W x L x lens_diameter^2 /(focal_length x wave_length)^2

2. The above equation shows to achieve the same number of pixel per frame with the scaled focal length to match the angle of view, we will need the same lens diameter.
    That is, when WxL is scaled down, so as the focal length, they cancel out, and leave the lens diameter unscaled. This implies the lens physical size will be about the same as thenlarge format.

3. This means,

    -- if two formats have the same number if total pixel, and have the scaled lens focal length, the lens will have the same diameter.
    -- on the other hand, if the two formats have the same pixel pitch, so that the larger format has more pixel per frame, the lens diameter of the large format needs to be proportionally larger.


4. However, the point 3 also indicates an advantage of smaller format. When two formats have the same total number of pixels and same lens diameter, the smaller format will be faster because the f number (focal length/ lens diameter) will be larger.

5. So when more pixel per frame is needed, the choice is larger format.
    But when the total number of pixel is enough, the smaller format is the choice. You get either smaller lens with the same speed or faster lens with the same size.


     




Well the larger format has a fundamental advantage when it comes to sharpness. The larger the sensor, the less optical reduction there is for a given Field of View. For example, consider shooting a billboard painted with closely spaced alternating black and white lines with a FF sensor and a 1.5x crop sensor and assume you just fill the frame with the billboard in each case, and use the same FF lens in each case. If the lines are spaced at say 50 lppmm on the FF sensor, they will be spaced at 75 lppmm on the crop sensor. The MTF of the lens will be lower at 75 lppmm than at 50 lppmm, assuming the lens has the same characteristics at the two different focal lengths used. Thus there is a fundamental advantage with the FF in terms of sharpness of the captured image and it is for this reason that the quantity lw/ph is used for comaprison purposes, when different sensor sizes are involved. Counteracting that to some extent is the fact that the lens will be less sharp at the edges of the FF sensor than at the edges of the crop sensor.

Dave
« Last Edit: April 06, 2016, 03:34:02 am by EinstStein »
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Herbc

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I had a real winner from a Sony Nex-7, printed quite large. That said, the camera is not much different in size than AR7xx, and they take all kinds of legacy 35mm size lenses.  That gives one the ability to use a lot of small MF lenses that would not be any help on a m4/3 or even aps-c.

Just seems like FF  makes for more utiltiy, and with the big sensor's a lot of room for cropping and such. 8)
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razrblck

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I would like a Olympus body that is multi shot capable to bring along as third camera, but the cost of owning two systems instead of one is too high for me right now.

Switching completely is out of the question, why should I when my Nikon gear works perfectly? I can handle weight, and when I'm actually around with gear in my Lowepro backpack I can hardly feel the weight. I've invested more in bags and comfortable clothing than photography gear, because my cameras are more than enough.

Going 200g or 400g lighter on bodies and lenses will not improve my skills anyway.
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Telecaster

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As of the lens, it may still take time for the new system/format to catch up. After all, there are so many heritage lenses in the FF format.

Hehe. I bet most of those heritage lenses are being used on systems other than those they were made for. I don't, for example, see (m)any AI or AIS lenses mounted on Nikon D-SLRs. The Nikon folks are mostly using latest generation—or close to it—AF-S stuff. But I've used my old Nikkors on both Sony A7x and m43 cameras.   :)

-Dave-
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PeterAit

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Re: What does it take to make you switch to smaller sensor digital camera?
« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2016, 04:59:59 pm »


Exactly what is missing in the smaller format that can be found in FF, other than more pixels?

FF sensors generally have better noise at higher ISOs.
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BobShaw

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Re: What does it take to make you switch to smaller sensor digital camera?
« Reply #11 on: April 07, 2016, 02:00:56 am »

> What does it take to make you switch to smaller sensor digital camera?

As far as my landscape work goes, if I have to carry it any distance ( or if I get too old) would be the only reasons.
Anywhere I can drive I use the Hasselblad. The rest gets the Canon 5D. The image quality difference is chalk and cheese.
I may only consider less than 35mm for the same reasons.
Travel photography might be an exception as you can get a wide range zoom to give reasonable photos with one lens and a lot lighter.
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EinstStein

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Re: What does it take to make you switch to smaller sensor digital camera?
« Reply #12 on: April 07, 2016, 04:07:41 am »

FF sensors generally have better noise at higher ISOs.

May be not as you think.
Yes, if the two formats have the same pixel count and assume the same sensor technology,  same lens f number, same shutter speed, same ISO, you can be sure the larger format sensor will jave less noise.

But dont forget with the same lens diameter, you will have faster lens f nunbrr with the smaller format. If you calculate the signal to noise ratio, the smaller format actually suffers less noise.

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dwswager

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Re: What does it take to make you switch to smaller sensor digital camera?
« Reply #13 on: April 07, 2016, 09:10:00 am »

Yes, may be the selective focus rendering is still not there yet. Is that all?

Exactly what is missing in the smaller format that can be found in FF, other than more pixels?

I have made 11x14 inch prints from 2MP!  So, MPs are not the only issue.

In general, where Full Frame has it over APS-C and smaller is significantly lower noise at the same MP count and the ability to more easily control DOF.  Beyond that, being already heavily invested in Nikon gear, it would take something earth shattering just to move me to another Full Frame line.
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Paulo Bizarro

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Re: What does it take to make you switch to smaller sensor digital camera?
« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2016, 04:13:38 am »

Been there, done that. Tried m43 and Fuji X for a while. Both failed for long exposures in landscapes at base ISO, too much noise, compared to FF. To me, today, it is a no brainer. A Panasonic GX8, Olympus EM-1, or Fuji XT1 or XPRO2, are about the same size as Sony FF Alpha 7 cameras. And putting together a good system with good lenses is about the same price (Olympus Pro glass, or Pana Leica glass, or Fuji good glass) compared to Sony good lenses.

Since the FF sensor of the Sony is so much better, for my purposes, why hinder myself? Sure, I can get a much smaller m43 camera, but I can also get a smaller Sony APSC MILC, so again, no really great advantage from the smaller formats.

As for print sizes, it depends on how far away you see the image. Apple had a campaign about shooting with the iphone 6, really billboard images displayed in buildings worldwide; the thing is, at that viewing distance, you don't need that much in terms of file quality.

BJL

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many factors differ when you change formats
« Reply #15 on: April 21, 2016, 12:52:45 pm »

Well the larger format has a fundamental advantage when it comes to sharpness. The larger the sensor, the less optical reduction there is for a given Field of View. For example, consider shooting a billboard painted with closely spaced alternating black and white lines with a FF sensor and a 1.5x crop sensor and assume you just fill the frame with the billboard in each case, and use the same FF lens in each case.
But most of us would probably not use the same lens – certainly not in the case of the various Four Thirds format users in this discussion!  A far more reasonable comparison of the capabilities of different formats is with each format used with a lens designed for that format and with the focal lengths chosen to cover the same FOV, so that the smaller format is used with a lens of shorter focal length and designed to optimize performance only over a smaller image circle.  Also, if adequate DOF is an issue, the larger format and longer lens would use a higher aperture ratio, and thus either a longer exposure time or a higher ISO speed.

In short, many factors would be different, some favoring the larger format, others favoring the smaller: the IQ prediction is not nearly as easy as you make it seem.


Anyway, back to the original question: I have changed to a smaller format just once, when I changed from film to digital, and the reason for changing (and not changing back) was that the that the advantages in the size, portability and price of a kit with several lenses cover a FOV range from wide to long telephoto were substantial, while any sacrifice in image quality or in reduced ability to blur the background by using bigger large-aperture lenses was small enough not to outweigh those advantages.
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Dave Ellis

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Re: many factors differ when you change formats
« Reply #16 on: April 22, 2016, 05:58:21 am »

But most of us would probably not use the same lens – certainly not in the case of the various Four Thirds format users in this discussion!  A far more reasonable comparison of the capabilities of different formats is with each format used with a lens designed for that format and with the focal lengths chosen to cover the same FOV, so that the smaller format is used with a lens of shorter focal length and designed to optimize performance only over a smaller image circle.  Also, if adequate DOF is an issue, the larger format and longer lens would use a higher aperture ratio, and thus either a longer exposure time or a higher ISO speed.

In short, many factors would be different, some favoring the larger format, others favoring the smaller: the IQ prediction is not nearly as easy as you make it seem.


Yes I agree that there are various factors involved and that it is unlikely that the same lens would be used. I was merely trying to describe one particular factor and used the same lens criteria to isolate that factor to keep the description simple. I didn't mean to imply that this factor would necessarily be the dominant factor!

Dave
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BernardLanguillier

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Re: What does it take to make you switch to smaller sensor digital camera?
« Reply #17 on: April 24, 2016, 02:23:37 am »

To me a key metric along which you loose going smaller format is the ability to generate shallow DoF, which matters for many applications.

For landscape, the very opposite is true and a smaller sensor with enough mp, DR (the Nikon D7200 coming to mind) and the right lens will IMHO be a better solution than FF or MF.

Cheers,
Bernard

bjanes

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Re: What does it take to make you switch to smaller sensor digital camera?
« Reply #18 on: April 24, 2016, 07:30:52 am »

Exactly what is missing in the smaller format that can be found in FF, other than more pixels?

Aside from the depth of field issues already discussed, the FF (24 * 36 mm, 367 mm^2) has over twice the surface area of APS-C (15.6* 23.5 mm, 366 mm^2) and thus, for a given aperture, the FF collects more than twice the number of photo-electrons than the APS-C. Since signal:noise varies as the square root of the number of photoelectrons collected, the FF will have about 1.4x the S:N as the APS-C. With APS-H as with Canon (18.6*27.9 mm), the difference is somewhat less.

This difference is confirmed by DXO for the latest generation of Nikons (6 dB = 1 f/stop)

Bill
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BJL

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Re: What does it take to make you switch to smaller sensor digital camera?
« Reply #19 on: April 24, 2016, 07:55:00 am »

Aside from the depth of field issues already discussed, the FF (24 * 36 mm, 367 mm^2) has over twice the surface area of APS-C (15.6* 23.5 mm, 366 mm^2) and thus, for a given aperture . . .
On this photon collecting advantage: it applies in some cases, but not as often as some comments above apply. In particular, when getting enough DOF is an issue, the larger format will not use the same aperture ratio but a higher one (giving the same effective aperture diameter) and then photons will be gathered at the same rate.

The larger format wins on photon count in two cases:
a) low speed: it can be used at base ISO speed or close, so as to get close to filling photo-sites in highlight areas and so gathering more photons than the smaller sensor is capable of holding.
b) low DOF with shutter speed constraints: the smaller format cannot use an aperture ratio low enough to match the photon-gathering speed (and shallow DOF) chosen with the larger format, and also cannot use a longer exposure time as needed to catch up on photon count.  Note that for this, the larger format needs a lens that is both longer and of larger maximum effective aperture diameter: the larger format needs "big glass" along with the "big silicon" to get the advantages sometimes attributed to the latter alone. That had to be accounted for in comparisons of price and kit bulk.
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